Posted January 29, 2011

Ok, we’re back from our winter slumber and have some news and some not-so-new items-but-they-bear-repeating. 


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WSNC January, 2011 Meeting


Adrian Daub, Assistant Professor of German Studies at Stanford University

“Opera and Marriage in the works of Eugen d’Albert”


Saturday January 29th at 1:00 pm


3200 California St@ Presidio, San Francisco

Donation: $10 for non-members


Educated in Great Britain, Eugen d’Albert showed early musical talent and, at the age of seventeen, he won a scholarship to study in Austria.  Feeling a kinship with German culture and music, he soon emigrated to Germany, where he studied in Weimar with the elderly Franz Liszt and began a career as a concert pianist.  A friend of Richard Strauss, Humperdinck and Pfitzner, d’Albert was heavily influenced by Richard Wagner; he composed 21 operas, the most well-known being Tiefland (1903).



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More WSNC News: Bayreuth Tickets!


We have received an excellent allotment of seats for Bayreuth and the deadline for applying is February 28th. These are the best seats we have ever been offered – ⅔of the seats are in the first ten rows of the orchestra!


It’s a non-Ring year, so you can collect the other operas you may have missed. This year, the operas are Meistersinger (24 aug), Tannhäuser (25 aug), Lohengrin (26 aug), Parsifal (27 aug), and Tristan (28 aug).


If interested, please remit an $1800 deposit to WSNC, PO Box 590990, San Francisco, CA, 94159-0990 or contact Steve Sokolow or (925) 849-6099 for more information. 



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Great Courses: Wagner 

by Professor Robert Greenberg


Since they offer frequent sales, our Ticketmeister was unable to strike a deal with Great Courses to give us a discount on their new Wagner course. Still, at the sale price of $70 (CDs) and $50 (MPEG-4 & MP3 audio download), it’s a bargain for 24 45-minute lectures.

Music of Richard Wagner


I’ve downloaded some of their courses and put them into iTunes and onto my iPods. It’s a great way to entertain oneself on a long drive.



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Upcoming Opera in Cinema La Scala broadcasts

Die Walkürefrom opening night at La Scala

Jan. 23 & 26 at the Camera 7 Cinema (in the Pruneyard Shopping Center, Campbell – corner of Bascom and E. Campbell Aves)
Conductor: Daniel Barenboim
Starring: Simon O’Neill, Waltraud Meier, John Tomlinson, Vitalij Kowaljow

Camera Cinemas |



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ChicagoLyric Opera Lohengrin

February 11 – March 8, 2011 



Wagnerian superstars join forces with Sir Andrew Davis and our magnificent Lyric Opera Orchestra and Chorus.



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René Pape


From Harleigh Knott: 

René Pape gets a rave review in today’s LA Times  (Jan. 17) for his local recital debut: “very in the moment,”  “a rare and magnificent recital of art songs,”  “without question the finest German bass of his generation.”  (Mark Swed, music critic.)

Works presented by Schubert, Hugo Wolf, &  Schumann.   (No Wagner or Mussorgsky.)


Also, my husband adds that he just got the new recording of the 2009 Gergiev/Mariinsky Parsifal and says that Pape is a truly great Gurnemanz. I only listened from the other room whilst working, but from what I heard, I’d have to agree.


And here’s what the Jan/Feb, 2011 of the American Record Guide says (after some quibbles comparing it to the 1927 Karl Muck/Bayreuth recording):  “…this is a set that should occupy a prominent space on the shelf of every lover of Wagner – indeed, of opera. It will in time surely be regarded as one of the Great Recordings of the 21st Century” (McKelvey)




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Anna Russell lives!


In anticipation of the upcoming Ring des Nibelungen in San Francisco, the San Francisco Opera Guild East Bay Chapter is holding its Annual Winter Gala on February 27th at 4:30 at the Crow Canyon Country Club in Danville, CA.  The Gala benefits opera education programs of the San Francisco Opera Guild – students K-12 and the young singers in the Merola and Adler Fellowship Programs.

The featured artist will be none other than noted Wagnerian Marie Plette who will take up the role of a lifetime – that of comedienne Anna Russell.   Many of us know Marie Plette from her days in the Merola Program of the San Francisco Opera as well as in the roles of Sieglinde, Elsa and Gutrune in Seattle, Cio-Cio San at San Francisco Opera, many roles with Berkeley West Edge Opera, Opera San Jose and Livermore Valley Opera.

Marie will take us on that hilarious romp IN the River Rhine, adding her own spin, freshening up some of the dated references but retaining (and possibly adding to) all of the laughs.  Join the Guild Chapter as they take up their spears to poke a little fun at our much-beloved Meister.

CrowCanyonCountry Club

711 Silver Lake Drive

Danville, CA 94526

February 27th, 2011

4:30 p.m. no-host bar; 5:30 p.m. dinner followed by the program 

$85 per person ($30 of the reservation fee is a donation which benefits music education)

For information:  Elva Cooper (925) 846-2092  or Irene Reich (except between the dates of Jan 15 and Jan 30)

Terri Stuart( and Eiko Kikawada (  are working to form Wagner Society tables of 8 for this event.  Contact them if you are interested – otherwise it is open seating


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A review of the not-so-well-received LA Lohengrin


Opera review: Los Angeles Opera stages a new production of ‘Lohengrin’ | Culture Monster | Los Angeles Times


Did anyone who saw it want to weigh in?



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Serious Cash for Opera in the Movie Houses + 3D Is Coming

This interesting article comes from OperaBobb:



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Fri Jan 28th. 

From the De Young Museum’s web site:

Opera Night | Free Friday Nights at the de Young

This Friday night come to the de Young Museum for a free opera performance by the Ensemble Parallèle with excerpts from the Philip Glass opera Orphee. Also enjoy live music, a closing art reception and take a free art class to learn how to make your own Venetian Opera Mask.



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New Book: Wagner & Cinema

Larry and Sandra send a heads-up on this new publication written by Martin Rommel and posted to Opera-L


IndianaUniv Press has released an noteworthy collection of essays on the subject of Wagner and film edited by Joeongwon Joe and Sander L. Gilman. The collection is divided into four sections:


Wagner and the silent film

Wagner in Hollywood

Wagner and German cinema

Wagner beyond the soundtrack


This is a massive tome of almost 500 pages that should intrigue anyone with an open mind. A number of films are mentioned that are indispensable viewing for anyone interested in opera and film. They include:


The Life and Times of Richard Wagner (1913)

Der fliegende Holländer (1964) – The first Wagner opera feature film

Golden Earrings (1947) – Hollywood war film that uses Ring motifs


The influence of Wagner on film-makers is extensively discussed, notably in Hollywood and Sergei Eisenstein. Though essentially a reference text, this new work makes for intriguing casual reading.


Paperback $29.95

Cloth $75  and search on “Wagner”



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Final Farewells…



Peter Hofmann  August 22, 1922 – November 30, 2110


Perhaps the hunkiest Wagnerian tenor ever, Peter Hofmann died of complications related to Parkinson’s in or near Bayreuth. He appeared several times in SF in the early ’80s: Lohengrin in 1982, Siegmund in the 1983 Walküre and again in 1985 in the complete Ring, and with his then-wife Deborah Sasson in a charming Fledermaus in 1984. While no one would call him a gifted interpreter – he divided his attentions between rock, pop and opera too much for that – still he had a beautiful golden voice and a presence and visage that made him one of the few Heldentenors for whom one didn’t have to suspend disbelief. He was the whole package. When he and Jeanine Altmeyer sang in the Centennial Bayreuth Ring, one had to believe that Herr Wagner would have been very happy.

Peter Hofmann obituary | Music | The Guardian



Michael Barclay 


Well-known Bay Area opera lecturer and leader of opera tours, Michael Barclay died in Tucson December 26 from a series of strokes. He was 68. Michael was brilliant, charming, controversial, flamboyant, imperious, frustrating, but he was never, ever dull.



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Homage to NPR 


The NPR junkies will love this fan piece on YouTube:



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As always, please notify me if I left something out and send me links to news, articles, and other Wagner tidbits! And please visit Wagner Bytes.  Sorry I haven’t done anything there recently; I’ll try to get something up there this week. (I was pretty horrified to find that I hadn’t posted anything since Sept, 2010! We’ve had a lot of irons in the fire – the least of which is trying to sort thru decades of pack rat accumulations and do a lot of deferred maintenance on our house in order to try to compete with the dozens of other homes currently on the real estate market. I’ve also been helping a friend to edit a Wagner book . It’s too early to say anything about it, but it’s a fabulous read and I keep getting so absorbed in it that I forget I’m supposed to be editing it!)


Trish Benedict, editor 

WSNC E-Notes